Archives for May 2015

Will Drug-Producing Yeast Strains Negatively Impact Homebrewing?

220px-Morphin_-_Morphine.svgYesterday, I posted a brief description of how, very soon, there will be a yeast strain capable of producing morphine from glucose. The usual substrates for morphine production, compounds isolated from opium poppies, will not be required. The simplicity of how morphine could potentially be produced has already caused nearly every article in the popular press (and many in the scientific press) to claim that producing morphine could be as easy as brewing beer at home. Some articles even unequivocally link the two. This should cause some concern among homebrewers. [Read more…]

Brewers Yeast Will Soon Be Able to Produce Morphine


“Well it just goes to show/ Things are not what they seem/ Please, Sister Morphine/ Turn my nightmares into dreams.” — Rolling Stones

On May 18th, the journal Nature Chemical Biology published an article entitled, “An enzyme-coupled biosensor enables (S)-reticuline production in yeast from glucose.” It’s a title that would generate little interest outside of a handful of biochemists had the authors not spelled out its implications elsewhere.

(S)-reticuline is an intermediate in the biochemical pathway to morphine in opium poppies. And previously, two other yeast strains have been engineered to produce morphine from (R)-reticuline, and (R)-reticuline from (S)-reticuline. In others words, there are now three yeast strains that — working together — could produce morphine starting with glucose — no opium poppies required. They did this by splicing genes from poppies and other organisms into these strains. It is, of course, only a short matter of time until all the genes necessary are brought together into single strain. [Read more…]

JM “Big Pig” Ale (a 14% ABV Barleywine)


Drawing by Nobu Tamura, from Wikipedia, used under GNU Free License.

This is a big barleywine — with a projected ABV of 14% — that uses “feeding” to reach its high alcoholic content. I am presenting this recipe as an example to go with the article on “feeding” that I posted at the end of April. I should point out that this is an example recipe — I haven’t actually brewed it. However, I have used the technique — exactly as described in the recipe — to boost a 12% ABV lager to a 14% ABV lager. (The lager, which I brewed once, was similar to Krampus Claws, which I’ve brewed three times.) This recipe is basically a higher alcohol version of my American barleywine recipe, which I’ve brewed a couple times. [Read more…]

Our Dullest Article To Date (Intro)

Screen shot 2015-05-12 at 1.58.53 PMThis will be the dullest brewing article you’ll ever read. It will stretch out over several posts, spanning several weeks. Nothing in it will be exciting. However, you should read it if you are serious about brewing. It’s nominally about cleaning and sanitation, but it’s really about brewing the cleanest beer possible.

[Read more…]